November 8, 2013

The Sweet Side of the Sweet Science - Women's Boxing Monthly Vol. 9

By Mark A. Jones – Keeping it in the family, the younger sisters of two female Mexican boxing legends are now punching for pay. On October 26 in Toluca, Mexico, Lourdes Juarez, the younger sister of Mariana “Barbie” Juarez made her debut knocking out Gabriela Martinez (0-1) in the fourth. Not to be outdone, Silvia Torres (1-0), younger sister of two-time WBC female super-flyweight champion, Ana Maria Torres is scheduled to compete on November 16 in Guanajuato.

On October 5, the 39th Annual National PAL Boxing Championships were held in Oxnard, CA. Two members of the 2012 Olympic Team, Bronze Medalist, Marlene Esparza and Queen Underwood competed in the tournament. Esparza won the 112 pound elite final by besting Sacred Downing. Underwood lost in the 132 pound elite semi-final to 2012 Olympic Alternate, Mikaela Mayer who went on to defeat Melissa Parker in the finals. Mayer gained the distinction of being named Best Female Boxer Overall of the tournament. Third time is a charm for Mayer who twice lost to Underwood in the first-ever women’s U.S. Olympic Boxing Trials in 2012.

Irish Fans Are Smiling


106# Maureeca Lambert, Glen Ellyn, IL.
112# Marlene Esparza, Houston, TX.
119# Jaime Mitchell, Salinas, CA.
125# Tiara Brown, Hyattsville, Md.
132# Mikaela Mayer, Los Angeles, CA.
141# Lisa Porter, North Ridge, CA.
152# Fallon Farrar, Army
165# Raquel Miller, San Francisco, CA.

On November 30, Katie Taylor returns to action in her home town of Bray, Ireland, against top-notch European competition in the form of Finland’s Mira Potkonen. Last summer, she drew more than 20,000 fans to her post-Olympic homecoming. As Taylor continues her “The Road to Rio” campaign, she secured her fifth consecutive European Union title earlier this year by besting Estelle Mossely of France.
Taylor is ranked #1 in the world by the AIBA.

A look back at October 2013 in women’s boxing:

La Pantera Farias shows Mary McGee no mercy
On October 4, the consensus two best lightweights in women’s boxing were victorious. In Rosario, Argentina, KO Digest #2 pound-for-pound female boxer, Erica Anabella “La Pantera” Farias, 134 ½, Virreyes, Argentina, defended her WBC female lightweight title for the tenth time with a lopsided unanimous decision victory (100-90/98-90/98-91) over “Merciless” Mary McGee, 134 ½, Gary, Indiana. Normally a forward-moving slugger, Farias (18-0, 9 KOs) displayed the versatility of a pound-for-pound ranked fighter by outboxing her stationary opponent, displaying speed, combination punching, and effective movement. McGee dropped to (20-3, 11 KOs) with the loss.

In Gent, Belgium, the current WIBF lightweight champion, and former IBF and EBU lightweight title holder, Delfine Persoon, 134 ½, Roeselare, Belgium, won an eight-round unanimous decision victory (80-71/80-71/80-72) over Irma Balijagic Adler, 134 ½, Sarajevo, Bosnia And Herzegovina. Persoon, the KO Digest’s #12 pound-for-pound female boxer has developed into an excellent puncher with the right hand stopping six of her last ten opponents. As accomplished a puncher that Persoon has developed into, Adler failed to get out of the first round in June 2012 against Farias.

Persoon vs Farias soon?
Persoon is ranked #1 by the WBC who boasts Farias as their lightweight women’s champion. The possibility of the two best lightweights in women’s boxing meeting for supremacy of the division is unlikely. Persoon is scheduled to meet IBF welterweight champion, Eva Halasi in an eight-round, non-title fight on November 11. In December, she is scheduled to defend her WIBF lightweight title against Italian Lucia Morelli who holds the WIBA, WBF, and GBU lightweight belts. With Persoon occupied in Europe, Farias has conquered the rest of the division possibly paving the way for a move to light-welterweight where significant challenges exist. Fellow Argentinian compatriots Monica Silvina “La Gata” Acosta (WBA), Fernanda Soledad Alegre (WBO), and Alejandra Marina “Locomotora” Oliveras (WBC) head the light-welterweight division; each would be considered involved in a super-fight if matched against each other or Farias. Oliveras (31-2-2, 16 KOs) has won four legitimate world titles during her career.

On October 5 in Incheon, South Korea, in front of a hometown crowd, Ji-Hyun Park, 102, defended her IFBA minimumweight title for the fourteenth time with a ten-round unanimous decision victory (96-95/98-92/97-94) over the hard-punching Juejeath “Bad Girl” Nagaowa, 102, Anyang, South Korea by way of Philippines. With the win, Park moves to (19-2, 5 KOs) and is quietly 7 ½ years into her reign as a minimumweight champion.
Nagaowa drops to (12-13-1, 8 KOs) with the loss.

Slick Southpaw Ashley
On October 23 in Tijuana, Mexico, in the headliner of a seven bout all-female card, southpaw Alicia “Slick” Ashley, 121 ¼, Westbury, New York, by way of Jamaica, defended her WBC female super-bantamweight title for the third time with a fifth-round technical knockout of a game but limited, Zenny Sotomayor, 121 ¼, Los Mochis, Mexico. At the age of 46, Ashley (20-9-1, 2 KOs), who turned professional in 1999, is the female version of the ageless Bernard Hopkins. Generally, fighters become inconsistent as they age; Ashley, with the stoppage victory over Sotomayor, won her fifth fight in a row, the longest such streak of her career. Sotomayor (10-6-2, 8 KOs) entered the fight with a glaring knockout percentage built on exploited fighters. She had little chance of laying a serious glove on Ashley who is as pure a boxer currently campaigning in the sweeter side of the sport. With the knockout, Ashley earned her second career stoppage victory and first since stopping Elena Reid on cuts in 2005. At first glance, Ashley’s record may seem pedestrian, but a closer inspection reveals that of her nine losses, all have been away from her New York City base and five in other countries where decisions were lost by razor-thin margins. Her last decisive loss came in 2002 against Chevelle “Fist of Steel” Hallback in the super-featherweight division.

On the undercard, twenty-year-old future flyweight star, Kenia Enriquez (8-0, 4 KOs) Tijuana, Mexico, won a six-round decision over Kareli Lopez (5-5-1, 1 KO) also of Tijuana. Maureen “The Real Million Dollar Baby” Shea (25-2, 11 KOs) Ventura, California, by way of the Bronx, NY, won a six-round unanimous decision over Lesly Morales (3-4-1, 0 KOs) Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Shea, a former NABF and interim WBC featherweight champion, is possibly best known for being the main sparring partner for Hilary Swank in her preparation for her academy award winning performance in the movie, “Million Dollar Baby.”

Ava Knight is defeated by Mexico's La Roca
On October 26 in Toluca, Mexico, Ibeth “La Roca” Zamora improved to (19-5, 8 KOs) successfully defending her WBC female light-flyweight title for the second time with a ten-round unanimous decision over the highly regarded and former flyweight champion, Ava “The Lady of Boxing” Knight (12-2-3, 5 KOs). At the final press conference, Zamora hailing from Huichochitlan San Cristobal, Mexico which is a community within the municipality of Toluca, was confident of victory denigrating Knight’s accomplishments at flyweight and described Knight’s punching power as cotton-fisted. In Mexico, before this fight, Knight was referred to as the “Mexican Destroyer” for her many victories against fighters of Mexican descent, most notably Mucino and Juarez.

That nickname took a hit as did Knight during the ten rounds of fast-paced action. Zamora backed up her bold statements executing her fight-plan against the taller and longer American - evading, countering, and bullying Knight around the ring. Fighting at 108 lbs for only the second time of her career, Knight, who has fought for world titles at flyweight, super-flyweight, and bantamweight appeared sluggish and had difficulty establishing anything in the early rounds that would discourage Zamora from landing counter power punches at an alarming rate. After the slow start, Knight of Chico, CA., was competitive in the second half, avoiding a shutout on the score cards (98-92/97-94/97-93). With the win, Zamora vaults into the P4P discussion and Knight remains a known commodity in and around flyweight.

A look ahead to November 2013 in women’s boxing:

Kika vs Machine Gun
On November 9, in Mexico, pound-for-pound #4 female boxer, Jessica “Kika” Chavez (19-3-2, 4 KOs) Mexico City, Mexico, defends her WBC Silver female light-flyweight title against heavy-handed Arely “Machine Gun” Mucino (18-2-1, 10 KOs) Monterrey, Mexico. “Kika” Chavez is as good as it gets in women’s boxing winning her last nine fights since dropping a decision to Esmeralda Moreno in 2011. Chavez won the vacant WBC Silver light-flyweight title by defeating Irma Sanchez (UD-10) in February and successfully defended the strap by narrowly defeating fellow pound-for-pound fighter, Yesica Yolanda “Tuti” Bopp (UD-10) in June. Trained by Ignacio Beristain, Chavez is a versatile fighter owning the ability to utilize the strategies of a lead-puncher, counter-puncher, and fight inside or from a distance.

Mucino, the former IBF female flyweight and WBA (interim) female flyweight title holder, is a high volume, midrange hook artist, which after the opening bell, is throwing punches in bunches. Against A-level competition, she more than holds her own defeating Melissa McMorrow (SD-10), and losing to Mariana Juarez (SD-10). Mucino was leading on the cards after three rounds when battling the long-time champion, Susi Kentikian until a clash of heads prematurely ended the fight resulting in a no-decision. Ava Knight starched her in two rounds in October 2011. The loss remains the only eyesore on an otherwise impressive record. This fight will be televised by Mexico Televisa. Mucino’s battle with Juarez enjoyed double digit ratings which is a testament to the popularity of women’s boxing in Mexico.

On November 13, at Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan, the former WBC minimumweight champion Naoko Fujioka (10-0, 6 KOs) Tokyo, moves up in weight to challenge reigning WBA super-flyweight champion, Naoko Yamaguchi (22-3-3, 18 KOs) also of Tokyo. A former Japanese amateur champion, Fujioka, in 2009, turned professional at the late age of thirty-four requiring only 20 months and six professional fights to win the WBC female minimumweight title. In March, after two successful defenses, she knocked out trial horse Maribel Ramirez (KO-4) at the flyweight limit of 112 pounds after finding it difficult to find suitable opponents at minimumweight. Most recently, Fujioka vacated the WBC female minimumweight title and accepted the challenge of Yamaguchi. Known as a brutal puncher, Fujioka owns late-round knockout power, Anabel Ortiz (RTD-8), Kanittha Kokietgym (TKO-9) and underrated boxing skills as demonstrated in decision victories over Victoria Argueta (UD-10) and Naoko Shibata (UD-10).

Yamaguchi won the WBA female super-flyweight title with a ten-round unanimous decision over Tenkai Tsunami defending it successfully twice defeating Judith Rodriguez (UD-10) and Loredana Piazza (TKO-7). In contrast, the more experienced Yamaguchi turned professional in 2001 at the age of twenty-three and doubles Fujioka in rounds boxed (126-60). Although her knockout percentage is slightly higher than Fujioka’s (64.29% — 60%), which is excellent in female boxing, Yamaguchi relies on punch volume more so than one-punch knockout power. Owning an (8-1-1, 5 KOs) record in title fights, Yamaguchi brandishes ring savvy and experience against the versatility and punching power of Fujioka. The height and reach statistics are similar rendering Fujioka’s jump in weight moot. This match-up has all the ingredients as a fight of the year candidate. 

Lamonakis fights for the New York State title
On November 15 at the Five Starr Banquet in Long Island City, Queens, New York, Sonya “The Scholar” Lamonakis (8-1-2, 1 KO) New York, New York, by way of Greece, squares off against experienced banger, Gwendolyn “Stealth Bomber” O’Neil (18-7-3, 7 KOs) Georgetown, Guyana, in an eight round contest for the vacant New York State heavyweight title. The 39-year-old Lamonakis, a full-time NYC school teacher and a four-time New York Daily News Golden Gloves Champion, since turning professional in 2010 has brought credibility and attention to the women’s heavyweight division which had been lacking since the retirement of Natascha Ragosina in 2009. Lamonakis, who has yet to fight beyond the sixth round, holds multiple decision victories over contenders Tanzee Daniel (UD6, MD6, UD6) and Tiffany Woodard (MD6, UD6). After a two-year hiatus from the ring, the 44-year-old O’Neil, who held world titles at light-heavyweight and heavyweight, dives into the deep end of the pool facing the highly ranked and popular Lamonakis in New York City. Her previous travels to the US have been met with mixed results

On November 9 at the Aviator Sports Complex, Brooklyn, New York, Heather “The Heat” Hardy (6-0, 1 KO) will square off against Ana Laura “La Maravilla” Gomez (4-3) Agua Prieta, Mexico, in an eight-round contest for the vacant UBF International super-bantamweight title. Hardy, who recently signed a long-term promotional deal with DiBella Entertainment, will be fighting in her home town of Brooklyn for the first time. Since dispensing with the head gear and larger gloves of the amateur ranks fifteen months ago, Hardy has become a mainstay in the New York City boxing community constructing and ever-growing fan base with her aggressive fan-friendly style. She has been featured in numerous forms of media most recently, The Ring Magazine.

Hardy faces a tough test from Gomez
While hammering out a boxing career fight by fight, simultaneously, Hardy reconstructed her life that was forever altered by Super-Storm Sandy just over one year ago. The Super-Storm devastated the community of Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn leaving many homeless including Hardy. Since, Hardy has rolled with the punches of putting her life back together and won four fights, most recently earning her first stoppage victory over Cassie Trost (TKO-4).

Her opponent, “La Maravilla” Gomez is no stranger to New York previously losing decisions to Patricia “Patty Boom Boom” Alcivar and Keisher McLeod-Wells in the Big Apple. Gomez owns a winning record and in her last bout, won a ten-round decision over an unremarkable opponent.

To date, Gomez is the most skilled opponent Hardy has faced and an obstacle she must overcome to rise to the next level.

David McLeod will be credentialed ringside to cover the fight live for KO Digest. 

Three Questions - Sweet Side Q&A with Eva Voraberger

The Golden Baby
The 23-year-old Eva “The Golden Baby” Voraberger of Vienna, Austria, since turning professional in 2008, has pounded out an impressive (16-3, 8 KOs) record winning the WIBF flyweight title in May, 2013 with a one-sided pasting of veteran Polina Pencheva. With that victory, Voraberger rode the momentum of a 15-fight winning streak into a September WBF super-flyweight against Jordanian born and German based Raja Amasheh (16-0-1, 4 KOs); arguably the most skilled opponent “The Golden Baby” has faced to date. A known commodity on the European scene, Voraberger improved her International standing showing well, but losing a closely-contested unanimous decision to Amasheh. In December, in her home town of Vienna, Eva defends her WIBF title against 37-fight veteran, Fleis Djendji of Serbia.

Q: What prompted you to take up boxing? Do most European female boxers have a background in kickboxing or Thai boxing?

A: I was seventeen and I was a little bit of a bad girl. I'd make problems when I'd go out. My mother said please search for a sport. I found Thai Boxing by Fight Club Graz. I had twenty two fights in Thai boxing and my trainer Victor Kammerhofer said, “Eva I think you're better in boxing.”

Q: On December 7, you defend your WIBF flyweight title in front of your hometown fans in Vienna, Austria. Will there be added pressure fighting in your hometown? What did you learn in your recent title fight with Raja Amasheh that may lend you well in this fight?

A: I only want to fight at hometown. Another place is not important to me. I like it when I can fight at home and I say thank you to all my fans and family. When I walk to the ring I forget all I want is to only fight. I learned very much in the fight against Raja and I train now, my fault, and I want do better in the next fight.

Q: Do you follow the American boxing scene and what other fighters do you follow or emulate?
It is known that you are a fan of Marvin Hagler.

A: Yes, Marvin Hagler was the best boxer. I follow the American boxing because the fights are so good.
My other favorite boxers are Manny Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Oscar De La Hoya.

KO Digest's Dynamite Dozen Pound-for-Pound Ratings:

Zamora crashes the P4P list with big win over Ava Knight
1- Cecilia Braekhus (23-0, 7 KOs) Norway
2- Erica Farias (18-0, 9 KOs) Argentina
3- Christina Hammer (15-0, 7 KOs) Germany
4- Jessica Chavez (19-3-2, 4 KOs) Mexico
5- Yesica Bopp (25-1, 11 KOs) Argentina
6- Ann Sophie Mathis (27-3 24 KOs) France
7- Marcela Acuna (40-6-1, 17 KOs) Argentina
8- Jelena Mrdjenovich (30-9-1, 15 KOs) Canada
9- Diana Prazak (12-2, 8 KOs) Australia/USA
10- Ibeth Zamora (19-5, 8 KOs) Mexico
11- Ava Knight (12-2-3, 5 KOs) USA
12- Delfine Persoon (26-1, 11 KOs) Belgium

"The Sweet Side of the Sweet Science" is written and compiled by women's boxing expert Mark Jones - exclusively for KO Digest. You can find more of Mark's work on his women's boxing blog: Boxing Jones